Fox River Trail

Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, Fox River Trail 

This fabulous bike ride comes with lots of beautiful scenery, green spaces, shopping opportunities and small-town charm. Visit Geneva, St. Charles and Batavia, where you’ll find quaint stores, cafes, ice-cream vendors, museums, old fashioned restaurants and several bike shops. This ride is also dripping in history. For example, just off the path at 333 S. Jefferson in Batavia is Bellevue Place, the former sanatorium where Mary Todd Lincoln was confined for four months. In addition, you’ll see an old Dutch Windmill and a Japanese Garden.

Terrain

Well-maintained paved trail with stretches of bumpy paths and sidewalks.

Traffic

You’ll cross big highways, negotiate small-town streets and sail along smooth open trails, mostly the latter.

Access

Take Metra’s Union Pacific West Line to Geneva. Bike north on Third Street and east on State Street. Cross the river and turn left into the Old Mill Island Park on the northwest corner of State and Water streets.

By car, exit Interstate 88 at Highway 59 going north. After 3.5 miles, bear left on Joliet Street. After one mile, turn left on Roosevelt Road, which becomes State Street. After five miles turn right just before the river on Water Street. Three hour parking, except Sundays/ holidays. If that’s not enough, look for parking on side streets or in town.

Food and Drink

In between long green stretches, there are many food and drink options, from water to ice-cream.

Side Trips

A few of the many possibilities: Fabyan Villa Museum, Mill Race Inn for a nice meal; and the Good Templar Park, home of a Viking ship that crossed the Atlantic for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.

 

More Details

Some cyclists call the Fox River Trail Chicagoland’s best pedal. The trail is paved, the scenery impressive and the attractions, well, attractive. Other cyclists, however, complain that the trail can be hard to follow. True, it’s broken up by a few small towns and crosses the river several times, which can be confusing. But if you hug one side of the river or the other, you could miss some of the best parts of the trail, such as the incredibly dense and rich forest preserve on the eastern side between Batavia and North Aurora.

This serene stretch of shaded path includes the Red Oak Nature Center with hiking trails, an observation deck, a restored prairie and an interpretive boardwalk. So follow the Ride Log and you won’t get lost or miss the highlights. Another one of those highlights is the Old Dutch Windmill that was built in the 1870s in what is now part of Lombard and moved to its present location in the mid-1910s. It was almost demolished in the 1990s; instead it was refurbished and is now protected by its status on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Long may it reside at the top of the sledding hill at the Fabyan Forest Preserve. Nearby the windmill is the must-see Fabyan Japanese Gardens on the grounds of the Fabyan Villa, which was home to George and Nelle Fabyan from 1905 to 1939. The lavish estate featured fountains, gardens, greenhouses, swimming pools and even a private zoo. Today you can tour the windmill, and the villa houses a museum that will introduce you to this fascinating and generous couple, who gave (or sold at a big discount) the community much of their property and colorful possessions.

Of course, the river itself is picturesque and relaxing, especially when viewed from one of the many bridges that cross over it. This is a very popular area on summer weekends. If you start early you could do a century ride along the Fox River Trail and the many paths with which it intersects. Or you could regale yourself in the history, culture and natural beauty of just a small section of this interesting waterway and splendid greenbelt. Either way, you’ll want to come back for more.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at Old Mill Island Park. Bike to the river and turn left.
  • 0.4 Cross bridge over river.
  • 0.7 Bear left to stay on main path.
  • 1.3 Continue straight, not over bridge.
  • 2.3 Bike on sidewalk to follow trail.
  • 2.6 Go straight to stay on the street-level trail. (There are stairs for the river-level.) Then turn right and bike over the bridge.
  • 2.8 Turn left on Island Ave and bike south in the street.
  • 2.9 Cross Wilson St and bike along Shumway Ave and through parking area.
  • 3.0 Pick up trail to your left.
  • 3.1 Turn left and cross three bridges.
  • 3.3 Make a quick left and right to go around the ball field.
  • 3.9 Bear right.
  • 4.1 Illinois Prairie Path’s Batavia Spur on left.
  • 4.2 Cross Batavia Creek.
  • 4.6 Bear right on trail with yellow stripe.
  • 5.0 Blue Sky Prairie Walk on left with restored prairie.
  • 5.6 Slow down for hikers at observation deck.
  • 6.5 Cross bridge and turn left over busy Butterfield Rd.
  • 9.2 Cross big road.
  • 9.6 Bear left at Y to stay on trail rather than go downtown.
  • 9.8 Bear left to stay next to river.
  • 10.2 Trail ends abruptly. Turn around.
  • 13.7 Bear right at Y to go under bridge.
  • 16.7 Bike through large open area along Pamarco Dr and bear right at sign for bike trail.
  • 16.9 Turn left on Shumway Ave and bike north in street.
  • 17.1 Cross Wilson Ave.
  • 17.2 Turn left on path along Houston.
  • 17.3 Turn right on path along Water St.
  • 18.9 Fabyan Villa and Japanese Garden on left.
  • 19.0 Cross bridge and turn left.
  • 20.0 Bear left along river.
  • 20.3 Starting point on right.
  • 20.4 Turn left on sidewalk.
  • 20.5 Pick up trail on the left.
  • 21.3 Cross busy Riverside Ave.
  • 21.7 Cross busy Riverside Ave again and take a sharp right along the riverbank.
  • 22.5 Riverside Ave (First Ave) and Illinois St appears to be the end of trail, with signs advising you to walk your bike on the sidewalk. Bike ahead in the street to visit St. Charles or turn around and return.
  • 23.2 Slow down for sharp left turn.
  • 24.4 Turn right and bike on sidewalk.
  • 24.5 Turn right.
  • 24.7 End ride.
  • Trail map

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    38.631 km / 24.004 mi

    Total Distance

    131 m / 429 ft

    Total Ascent

    131 m / 430 ft

    Total Descent

    214 m / 702 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Gravel
    Various
    Difficulty: Beginner (Green)
    Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Excellent
    Estimated Distance: 39.0
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber
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